Using cellphone as GPS Legal in CA

PEDESTRIAN-SIGN2According to the LA Times (click HERE) an appellate court ruled that “…Californians may use a cellphone to look at map applications while driving, even if apps are not hands-free.”

A driver from Fresno, CA had received a ticket for using his phone’s navigation system to find an alternative route around heavy traffic.  He fought the $165 ticket and initially lost his bid to have the ticket dismissed.  Fighting an uphill battle, he managed to get a sympathetic ear in superior court.  From the article:

Attorneys for the state had argued the law, which prohibits “using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking,” outlaws any use of a phone that is “hands-on.”

The judges disagreed, writing that such a broad interpretation of the law would lead to “absurd results.”

“Then it would be a statutory violation for a driver to merely look at the telephone’s display,” they wrote in the 18-page opinion. “It would also be a violation to hold the telephone in one’s hand … and look at the time or even merely move it for use as a paperweight.”

Naturally, the key to vigilant driving is to avoid all sorts of distractions like eating, shaving, applying make-up or reading maps, etc.  Distracted driving comes from three basic sources:

  1. Visual Distraction:  anything that takes your eyes off the road while driving
  2. Physical Distraction:  anything that takes your hands off of the wheel while driving
  3. Cognitive Distraction: anything that takes your mind off of your driving duties

EdiscoveryEach of these types of distractions is problematic, and drivers may be distracted to the point of crash by many different things.

The lesson in this instance is that while it may be legal to access apps on a hand held phone because the current law was written before phone apps existed (and was not described clearly to distinguish these as distractions) it doesn’t make it a good idea to fiddle with your hand held phone while driving.

In the same train of thought, it’s not a good idea to let your mind wander by listening to talk radio, but that’s also legal.

Summary

We each share a responsibility to drive with vigilance and discipline.  There may be times when we are distracted momentarily, and sometimes those distractions are necessary (receiving hand signals from a police officer or construction flagger who is directing traffic may distract us from cross traffic, but it’s a matter of juggling our focus appropriately)…..Nonetheless, we should work hard to keep these instances to a bare minimum and keep our focus on the road.

You tell his mommy

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